Friday, December 28, 2007

Wee Beasties

Since I returned to Chicago two years ago, now, I cannot recall having seen a fly. Nor have I seen a mosquito. Both exist in profusion in northern Wisconsin, together with a plethora of other creeping, crawling, flying beasties. I do not miss them.

But what Chicago has that northern Wisconsin does not is cockroaches. Lots of cockroaches. Lots and lots of cockroaches. And no matter what you do or how hard you try to get rid of them, there they are. There are also an assortment of other unfamiliar little beasties—some of which are so small as to be nearly invisible—which love nothing better than to stroll casually up your pantleg or down your arm with the attitude of having ever right to be there.

I can totally understand how cockroaches have managed to be around, basically unchanged, for several million years and why they will probably be here long after we humans are gone. They are nothing if not tenacious, and I have strong reason to question those who say that they are not aware of us or our intentions toward them.

I hate killing any living thing. Really, I do. Even roaches, but saintliness is saintliness and roaches are roaches, so I set aside my morals and do my best to keep my apartment clear of them, which is a losing proposition, and both I and the roaches know it. I can kill every single roach in my apartment and ten minutes later they are replaced by friends and relatives coming in from air ducts and small cracks around pluming and electrical conduits running through the walls of the building.

I normally keep a can of Raid Roach Killer at the ready. But if I see a roach in the bathroom, the can is in variably in the kitchen, and if I see a roach in the kitchen, the can is in the bathroom. And by the time I get to the can and back to where I saw the roach, it is long gone. I sometimes think I can hear it chortling, but I’m not sure.

When I ran out of Raid recently, I had to take another 100% absolutely-positively-guaranteed roach killing spray. The roaches love it! I will see a roach, spray it, and it will pause long enough to contemplate whether to fetch a small bar of soap and bottle of shampoo, or an umbrella before going about its business. So I have devised a new, fairly foolproof methods of extermination: I hit it with my shoe. (If they’re on the floor, I stomp on them. If they’re on the wall or a cabinet or anywhere I cannot stomp, I remove my shoe and swat them with it.)

Other than the flies and mosquitoes, Wisconsin’s beasties seem to be of gentler creatures…especially ladybugs. Wisconsin abounds in ladybugs, which are really rather pretty little things. I have found them to be downright social at times, and they seem to have taken a liking to me. At certain periods of the year they swarm in great number, climbing all over the outside of window screens apparently seeking a way in. Each year there would be several which took up permanent residence inside my house. There was one (I would like to think it the same one, since I grew rather fond of it) which resided on my bathroom sink. I’d come down in the morning, and there it would be, patiently doing whatever it is that serves to pass the time for ladybugs. Usually, it just sat there, apparently daydreaming, until I would give it a gentle nudge with the tip of my finger, at which point it would wander around a bit with no apparent clear destination in mind. One day I noticed it on the rim of a water glass I kept on the sink. It obviously had someplace it had to be…a luncheon engagement, perhaps…and it had chosen the rim of the water glass as an unobstructed route to get there. I kept watching it all the time I was in the room, and it never slowed its pace. When I left, it was still walking purposefully, apparently confident that it was making great progress and would reach wherever it had set out to go in short order.

Ladybugs are pretty, but they are not the brightest of God’s creatures. Cockroaches are not pretty, but I wouldn’t sell them short in the mental department. I wonder how long ladybugs have been around?

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